The 5 Things We Need To Stop Saying

1. I look terrible

“I look fat,” “I look awful,” I look so ugly,” or any variation on the faux self-deprecating mantras of pretty, thin girls everywhere need to go. There are only two possibilities in this scenario.

1. You are a svelte, attractive girl who is saying this purely to bait the flood of compliments that are sure to come her way, reassuring what she already knew about herself and bolstering her already bloated self-esteem. (This constitutes about 99 percent of this phrase’s usage.)

2. You are actually looking particularly unattractive or overweight, and you have now put the listener in a position where they are required to lie to you. We all know that “Yeah, Carol, you’ve really looked particularly shitty these past few days…that breakup must have been really hard on you,” is not an acceptable answer. We are required to placate the other person at the expense of our own honesty, and it’s incredibly uncomfortable.

Now, I am guilty of this myself (it would be incredibly hard to find a woman who hasn’t caved to the codependent pressure once in a while), but I try to avoid it at all costs. If something is going wrong that is actually taxing my ability to present myself in a way I’m happy with, I find it far more constructive to focus on the problem and not the symptom (i.e. I thought we were going to be together forever, I really loved that job, this leprosy is hitting me harder than I thought it would, etc.).

And please, please avoid taking photobooth pictures of yourself and captioning them with some variation on how unfortunate you look. That picture had 84 outtakes, you chose the most casually flattering, you know you look good. They are the perfect version of yourself that you imagine would mildly disappoint a prospective internet date upon meeting you in real life, no need to attach “Ugh, just woke up, Starbucks is just going to have to deal with this”. Whenever I see a photo like that with the ridiculous caption, I’m always tempted to find a photo of them on Facebook that some cruel friend tagged of them where they actually do look like the heavier, more sallow version of themselves. I then want to link to that photo, saying “No, you look beautiful in this photo. However, in this one, you look like you just shotgunned a 30 rack of sweetened condensed milk.”

2. Ok…

This has to go. Ok… has got to go. There are no five more passive-aggressive characters in the English language than this siren song of the indecisive loser. I am so tired of being in an electronic conversation with someone (where all intonation, inflection, expression, and body language are already out the door), saying something that requires some opinion or feedback, and being met with this cop-out of a response.

You clearly don’t like what I said, disagree, or have some opinion of your own to add but either lack the gall or the character space to express it. I don’t care what you have to do, I don’t care how many pages long your text is going to be or how long I’m going to have to watch the little Skype pencil squiggling, I want to know what you have to say. Even if it means you have to find me in the real world and speak to me with your human voice, even if it gets to that point, it’s worth it not to be left with this dead weight of a statement. Use your grown up words, ellipses are for quitters.

3. Maybe

Look, we’ve all had bigger names on the other line at some point or another. We’ve all been falling hard for the gorgeous, sarcastic guy with the chest piece and having far too much afternoon sex to see our friends. I know that, in a perfect world, we would be able to honor every minute commitment and no one’s feelings would get hurt, but it’s a world we don’t live in. Let’s leave out the obvious Roman orgy of lies that is Facebook events for a minute and talk about real-world invitations (which I hear still occasionally happen in smaller, sustainable-farming-based communities).

If I text you to ask you to do something in the near future, and you respond to me with some variation of maybe (usually sugar-coated, something to the effect of, “I would LOVE to, but I may have a thing on Friday night, I’m not sure yet, I’ll get back to you Friday afternoon!”), I’m going to take that as both a no and an insult.

Not only has maybe become the get-out-of-jail free card for things you’re not sure you want to attend, but our usage has also dumbed the word itself down to a slightly blurry version of “No, this does not sufficiently interest me.”

Even if I were playing into the ridiculous idea that “I’m not sure whether or not I’m going to be doing something Friday night” is a legitimate statement (do people pop out of your closet on Friday morning, put a jawbreaker in your mouth, and drag you to the Grizzly Bear concert?), it still wouldn’t make maybe a reasonable answer. Your answer should be, “No, I can’t commit to this right now, please don’t base your plans around the idea that I will come. If this changes, I’ll let you know, but I want to keep that night open for something incredibly fun and sexy. You’re not invited.”

Well, perhaps you don’t need to be that cruel, but we could all stand to be a little more honest with each other about what our plans are. Let’s save “maybe” for the times that really need it, like “If I wanted to organize an ecstasy party, and I bought all the supplies, would you invite your hot younger sister?”

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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